Diary of a Foodie
Vietnamese Chicken and Pineapple Soup
Diary of a Foodie: Season Three: India & Vietnam: Complex Cuisine
- Active time:1 hr
- Start to finish:1 hr
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- 1 pineapple (preferably labeled “extra sweet”; about 3 1/2 lb)
- About 2 qt water
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (3/4 lb total)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 (1-inch) fresh red Thai chiles*, minced, including seeds
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
- 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts (2 oz)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh lemon verbena
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cut peel from pineapple in a thin layer and discard, then trim outer layer of pineapple, cutting just deep enough to remove eyes but allowing pineapple to remain intact, and transfer trimmings to a blender. Quarter pineapple lengthwise and cut out core, then coarsely chop core and transfer to blender. Purée with 2 cups water until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart glass measure, pressing hard on solids (discard solids), then add enough water to measure 8 cups pineapple broth.
Cut remaining pineapple into 1/2-inch pieces and put in a bowl.
Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound chicken 1/4 inch thick with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin. Cut chicken across the grain into 1/4-inch-wide strips and transfer to a bowl, then chill, covered.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chiles and 2 tablespoons garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup fish sauce and boil until sauce is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. (Fish sauce will be extremely pungent when first added but will have a mild flavor in soup.) Add pineapple broth and bring to a boil. Stir in pineapple pieces, mushrooms, tomatoes, bean sprouts, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
While soup simmers, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté remaining tablespoon garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce and simmer until sauce is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and add to garlic mixture, then sauté, stirring, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Stir chicken into soup along with herbs and salt and simmer 1 minute.